Bin cameras encourage students to recycle
A tiny sensor attached to a camera takes pictures of what's thrown away and uploads images to Facebook, allowing students to monitor their trash.
Wed, Jun 08, 2011 at 12:50 PM
CHANGING HABITS: The project targets students because research has shown that people aged between 18 and 34 recycle less than other age groups. (Photo: brad montgomery/Flickr)
University students are being encouraged to change their ways and recycle through a project in which tiny cameras are fitted into bins.
Scientists at Newcastle University, in northeast England, said Wednesday that the "BinCams" had been placed in kitchen bins in five households.
The tiny sensor, attached to a camera phone, takes a picture every time the bin lid slams shut and uploads the image onto Facebook, allowing the students to monitor what they are throwing away.
The Facebook page adds an element of competition, allowing the student households to compare how their recycling efforts are going.
The project targets students because research has shown that people aged between 18 and 34 recycle less than other age groups.
Scientists said initial results indicated the experiment was a success. Early images showed pizza boxes, beer cans and other rubbish that could have been recycled, they said.
But after two weeks, the experiment showed that the bin is emptied less frequently as less rubbish is thrown away and more is recycled.
"The students said they felt like the bin was watching them and that it definitely made them think twice about what they were throwing away," said Anja Thieme, a postgraduate computer science student who is leading the project.
"By taking a photograph and uploading it to Facebook, the idea is that we create a platform for self-reflection — a permanent reminder. It's a bit like having your conscience sat on your shoulder niggling away at you."
Copyright 2011 AFP Global Edition